Dr Jiwon Hong

BTech(1st Class Hons), PhD


I am a biomedical researcher with skills in molecular biology, cell culture, compositional and particle analyses. After completing a PhD at the University of Auckland in Molecular Medicine in 2009, I worked for a biotechnology company (Androgenix Ltd.) for 4 years developing new technologies to improve sperm functionality for dairy industry. I then returned to the University of Auckland in late 2012 to work on a variety of biomedical research projects in the Applied Surgery and Metabolism Laboratory led by Professor John Windsor, Associate Professor Anthony Phillips and Associate Professor Tony Hickey.  

Research | Current

I am a Hugo Charitable Trust Research Fellow (2018-current). My research is mostly carried out in the Applied Surgery and Metabolism Laboratory, which is one of the four dedicated cross-faculty units of the Surgical and Translational Research (STaR) Centre.

My current research focuses on ‘acute pancreatitis’ (a sudden inflammation of pancreas) and other acute critical illness (such as major blood loss and septic shock from infection). Acute critical illness can trigger a similar pattern of cascade ending in multiple organ failure and death. This intriguing fact led me to research why this happens and to consider how to develop a method to prevent or treat this condition. Acute critical illness conditions are sudden and severe, and can happen to anyone at any time. I believe that the outcomes from my research will benefit many people of all ages and patient groups - especially if I could find a way to prevent or treat the multiple organ failure associated with this illness. 

In the past few years, I have been studying the role of ‘gut-lymph’, the lymphatic fluid that drains from the gut, as I believe that this is the key route for how toxic factors from the gut are transported, leading to organ failure, in both acute pancreatitis and other critical illnesses.

I am involved in several projects related to the acute pancreatitis and gut-lymph, and a few other biomedical projects:

  • Gut-lymph compositional study of acute pancreatitis and other critical illness

  • Changes of lymphatic vessel in fat tissue next to gut in obesity (collaboration with the Surgical Trials Unit of STaR centre and the Monash University, AUS)

  • Clinical trial to study human gut-lymph (collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania, USA)

  • Treatment of acute pancreatitis using lymph-targeting drugs (collaboration with the Monash University, AUS)

  • Treatment of acute pancreatitis using traditional herbal medicine (collaboration with the West China Hospital, China)

  • Treatment of acute pancreatitis using three novel drugs that can reduce inflammation and cell swelling

  • Bacterial extracellular vesicles and their influence onto human host cells

  • Human gut extracellular vesicles and their influence on bacteria

Postgraduate supervision


  • Victor Maldonado Zimbron, PhD 2019-, University of Auckland - 'Human Lymph and Critical Illness' (co-supervisor with A/Prof Phillips)
  • Joni White, PhD 2019-, University of Auckland - 'The use of eukaryotic extracellular vesicles for communication to the resident and pathogenic microbiome' (co-supervisor with A/Prof Swift and A/Prof Phillips)
  • Peter Russell, PhD 2018-, University of Auckland - 'The role and treatment of oedema and lymphatic dysfunction in critical illness' (co-supervisor with A/Prof Phillips)
  • Alistair Escott, PhD 2015-, University of Auckland - 'Towards the treatment of toxic thoracic duct lymph in critical illness' (co-supervisor with Prof Windsor and A/Prof Phillips)
  • Soe Min Tun, PhD 2013-, University of Auckland - 'Probing the toxicity of mesenteric lymph in critical illness' (co-primary supervisor with A/Prof Phillips)
  • Luke Tracy, MSc 2018-, University of Auckland - 'The pathogenesis of end organ injury in critical illness' (co-primary supervisor with A/Prof Phillips)


  • Lisa Brown, PhD 2019, University of Auckland - 'Improving percutaneous drainage of infected pancreatic necrosis by drain re-design and enzymatic liquefaction' (co-supervisor with A/Prof Phillips)
  • Zana Jury, MSc 2019, University of Auckland - 'Exploring the impact of toxic gut-lymph on mitochondrial function in multiple organ dysfunction syndrome using a model of acute pancreatitis' (co-supervisor with A/Prof Hickey)
  • Neny Sitorus, MSc 2016, University of Auckland - 'Can gut-lymph become toxic for mitochondria in sepsis and acute pancreatitis?' (co-supervisor with A/Prof Hickey)


  • The first New Zealand recipient of the National Pancreas Foundation Research Grant, USA (2019)
  • The first recipient of the Hugo Charitable Trust research fellow position at the STaR centre (2018)
  • Early Careers Academic Grant award, Association of Commonwealth Universities in London (2014)
  • Sir John Logan Campbell Medical Trust award (2006)
  • University of Auckland doctoral scholarship (2004-2007)


  • Treasurer of ‘Faculty of Science Postdoc Society Committee’ (2019-current)
  • Representative for School of Biological Sciences of ‘Faculty of Science Postdoc Society Committee’ (2018-current)
  • Designated Lab Person for the Applied Surgery and Metabolism Laboratory (2014-current)

Areas of expertise

  • Critical illness
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Gut-lymph
  • Extracellular vesicles
  • Cell culture
  • Molecular biology
  • Proteomics

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 3, Room 3002
New Zealand

Web links